29 April 1997

Press Release


NEW YORK, 28 April (DDSMS) -- A three-day International Conference on Sustainable Development of the Countries with Economies in Transition was held from 16 to 18 April in Minsk, Belarus. The conference was organized by the Government of Belarus and co-organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Department for Development Support and Management Services (DDSMS), the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Denmark.

More than 400 participants from 22 countries and 15 international organizations participated. The conference reviewed progress in the implementation of sustainable development principles in economies in transition, and identified the main problems and priorities in that regard.

The conference was opened by the Vice-Prime Minister, Chairman of the National Commission on Sustainable Development and Chairman of the National Organizing Committee for the Conference, Mr. Garkun.

Opening speeches were made by the President of Belarus, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, on behalf of the host State, and by representatives of the co- sponsoring organizations: Yves Berthelot, United Nations Under-Secretary- General and Executive Secretary of the ECE; UNDP Regional Director for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Anton Kruderink; Chief of the Economic and Social Development Management Branch, DDSMS, Lai Shian-Lung; and Permanent Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Energy of Denmark, Mr. Bjoernskov.

Ministers of Economy and Environment and senior officials of countries with economies in transition, as well as senior officials from international organizations, made technical presentations. They took note of information on the activities and plans of the United Nations and its agencies to promote sustainable development in countries in transition. They emphasized the great importance, at the current stage, of economic reforms, of the promotion of market principles, and of the integration of economic and social, and environmental policies.

Notwithstanding the numerous difficulties that those countries were facing today, needs were apparent for a continuous shift to sustainable development to resolve socio-economic problems, to satisfy the needs of current and future generations and to protect the environment in pursuance of

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the principles of the Declaration and the provisions of Agenda 21 adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. Efforts in that direction would contribute to the attainment of a further goal, namely the integration of economies in transition into the world economy.

The conference in Minsk represented a regional and national effort towards achieving sustainable development and an important contribution to the preparations for the June special session of the United Nations General Assembly to review the implementation of Agenda 21.

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